An eclectic mix of horror, space odyssey, magic, and situational humor make up the distinguished character of John Layman and Afu Chan’s Outer Darkness. From the co-creator of Chew, we are treated to a ragtag crew of misfits, sycophants, and mediums led by Captain Joshua Rigg. If that has not grabbed your attention yet, I can give you a few reasons why you should be reading Outer Darkness, like right now.
The Creators themselves
I can start by saying the writer of this book alone is enough to pick up at least the first issue. Layman gave us Chew, the adventures of John Chu, the cibopath FDA agent that gets psychic flashbacks from whatever he eats. Layman has a knack for unconventional contexts and interestingly round characters. He is committed to creating stories that he would actually enjoy reading and to me, he hits the mark on potential mass appeal as well. No story is too weird and Outer Darkness does not fall too far from the Layman tree. The combination of Chan with Layman shows we’re in good hands. Anyone who can make a crew of both exorcists and mathematicians interesting is solid in my book.
The Art Takes You There
The art of this book by Afu Chan is stellar. You open up the pages and you are immediately submerged in a world of Chan’s own design. Art is hard enough but I can imagine it being harder to create a world that does not exist elsewhere. The imaginative crew members and their occupations contribute heavily to a awesome story. In issue #1 when we’re introduced to the God-Engine, I knew this book would be journey. The creatures Chan illustrates are a marvel.
Outer Darkness has a full cast of eclectic, awkward, and diverse characters. What makes them really fun is that they are like The Office in space. The strained relationships brought on by the conflicting motivations drives the plot magnificently. We also are reasonably drawn through space toward the mysterious backstories of Captain Rigg, the ship, and the stragglers they bring along on the mission. The back and forth between Rigg and First Officer Satalis is first rate. It reminds of Jim vs. Dwight on The Office but only if Jim is also Michael the boss, and also had a bad ass attitude. Then combine that with almost a 100 crew members of an oracle Issue #4 when we start to hear more from Navigator (what’s his name again?) Elox is awesome. Which brings me to…
Plotting for Success
Layman says that he was inspired by Star Trek, Battlestar, The Expanse, Space 1999, Lost in Space, Event Horizon, and Alien. This amalgam of influences makes for the jaw-dropping madhouse that is Outer Darkness. It is gory, it is funny, and it is sexy. The pacing is good and the journey they take on the Charon, has a warm seat for all of us. It’s not for kids and it’s not for the soft-hearted adult either. There are decapitations, disembodiment, wayward souls, and sneaky plot twists. I am not only treated to an engaging story with some familiar tropes but these tropes are turned on their head in new and creative ways. Rigg is captain but he’s no Kirk or Picard. He’s Rigg and he takes no shit. And as the story progresses even when he’s wrong, he’s still kind of right.
All in all, this book in just a few issues has a new fan that wants folks to crack open Layman’s latest. It is fun, in the most gory, off-kilter, and unconventional way. Issue #5 gave me such genuine shock and I say be on the lookout for issue #6 on April 10. The collection of issues #1-6 will be available May 15 from Image Comics. Give it a shot, read it and tell us what you think in the comments or on our social media. .And with that, this was “Why You Should be Reading Outer Darkness.”